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Lake Okeechobee water discharges suspended amid pressure from elected officials, public protests

Posted at 10:38 PM, Jul 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 11:18:12-04

Water releases from Lake Okeechobee will not resume Monday. Late Sunday night, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would determine if and when they would resume the discharges after a full assessment the situation.

On Sunday, protesters lined up across the St. Lucie Lock armed with signs and dressed in green asking to keep Lake Okeechobee discharges from flowing into the estuaries.

"It's a thing the whole community feels strongly about," Nick Muzia said.

For nine days discharges from Lake Okeechobee were suspended. That was expected to change Monday.

However, on Sunday night the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced they will suspend water releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries effective Monday morning.

Before that was the case the community was worried.

"It breaks my heart to see it happening," another protester said.

Discharges from Lake Okeechobee combined with rain, pollutants and heat have caused toxic algae blooms. Locals say it's not only hurting the ecosystem, but their economy as well.

"We have people who count on our waters to survive," said another protester.

Some local businesses near the river have closed up shop. They say the slimy green substance is to blame. For many they've been fighting this issue for a while.

"We've had this problem going on for multiple years. There's so much toxicity going from Lake Okeechobee and every time they open the locks it just comes into our estuaries and kills all our environment our plants our seafood and our economy," said another protester.

During the suspension the Corps says they will continue to allow runoff from rain that accumulates in the Caloosahatchee or St. Lucie basins to pass through downstream structures.